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Independent App Developers, Meet TrepLabs

Entrepreneur and Adaptive Media are teaming up to launch TrepLabs, a platform to help little-known app makers gain exposure and customized business advice.
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Have a big-potential mobile application but a small marketing budget? Here's a chance to get your app featured on

Starting today, Entrepreneur Media (the publisher of Entrepreneur magazine and and Adaptive Media, a mobile, video and internet advertising company based in Irvine, Calif., are teaming up to help raise the profiles of little-known but notable apps.

"We want to level the playing field for emerging app makers and independent developers," says Entrepreneur Media's president and COO Ryan Shea, noting the mammoth difficulty facing many new app developers trying to elbow their way into the collective consciousness of mobile-device users. “ We’ve watched this segment evolve from a niche opportunity into a movement unto itself. Having advised business owners for over 36 years on how to grow their companies, it was a natural fit for us to provide entrepreneurs with the kind of support they need but can’t seem to find anywhere.”

As of September, there were roughly 1.3 million mobile apps (figure includes iPhone and iPad apps) available in Apple's App Store. But just 772 apps generated more than $1 million in worldwide revenue during the first three quarters of 2013, according to research firm Distimo, based in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

"One can say that no downloads equals minimal visibility in terms of rank and unfortunately this can be a vicious cycle," says Paul Mueller, the CTO and co-founder of the Berlin-based mobile analytics firm Adeven.

Enter: TrepLabs. The collaborative effort will be one part app incubator, one part business and monetization consultant and one part marketing platform. In addition to potentially getting a shout out on, which will feature at least one TrepLabs app each week, those making it into the program may also access business, design and marketing support from the folks at Adaptive Media (formerly Mimvi ), which live, breath and sleep apps.

"There's a misconception that if you build an awesome app, people will find it," says Adaptive Media CEO, Qayed Shareef. "The reality is, it’s virtually impossible to launch a big app without some serious marketing muscle. Our goal is to take unknown apps and help catapult them to widespread adoption by first, making them better and second, exposing them to a large audience of potential new users. Ultimately, it’s a very collaborative relationship between us and our developer partners.”

So how does it work? Upon admission into the program, which will accept three to six new applicants each month and lasts up to 24 months, Adaptive will perform an assessment on the app -- looking at an app's quality, market opportunity and growth potential, among other things. Note that only already-existing apps -- and those made for Apple's App Store and Google Play -- will be considered for the program.

"First we'll look at what makes the app special -- what hooks people in. Then we'll look at possible enhancements to keep users engaged, make it more viral, and how to optimize the revenue potential,” says Alex Richter, the lead project manager for TrepLabs. “One important element we look for is the developer's story and commitment to their app," he says, adding that if you're not a great marketer, you’re not alone. "A great startup story will help you get in, but a lack of one won't keep you out," Richter adds.

And while apps that get the green light can expect top-tier business positioning and design advice, they should also expect to share. In exchange for TrepLabs' input and marketing support, the platform asks 50 percent of an app's revenue for the duration of its tenure under the TrepLabs umbrella.

Apps including Eye Jumper, Slide Contacts and Camerarrific, have already signed up for TrepLabs, which expects thousands more entries, creating a network of high-quality apps that could lead to added feedback and promote greater economies of scale.

What's more, the relationship doesn't end when apps leave the platform. "We're looking to build a network of successful TrepLabs alumni and empower independent developers to flourish into profitable small businesses," says Shareef.